I know he’s not Atogwe or Asomugha or Sanders but I think the addition of Erik Coleman is a smart and savvy move for our Lions. Coleman isn’t a throw away guy. He was a starter and a decent one at that until he hurt his knee. Once he recovered he had been replaced by a second round pick that was playing well enough to make his contract expendable. I think all Falcons fans seemed pleased to have him as a quality back up at safety and even when he was a back up he managed to be the captain of the special teams unit. To me that shows character. He could have taken it easy or got an attitude about not getting his starting spot back but instead he went out and performed at a high level.
This has been a trend in Detroit, bad character guys have been removed and replaced with guys that are willing to work hard and give their best. Maurice Morris, Stephan Logan, Kyle Van Den Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, and even some lesser known guys like John Wendling have all been sought out because they are professionals and bring character to the team.
Coleman also gives me even more insight into the Lions plan in the secondary. I have a strong feeling that Chris Houston will be back next year with a multi-year deal.Coleman and Houston played together in Atlanta and should be able to play together quite quickly. An upgrade could still be had at the other side but if the season started today with the combination of Nathan Vasher, Alphonso Smith, Prince Miller, Brandon McDonald, and Tye Hill as you rotational corners I think the team’s pass defense would be in better shape than most people give them credit for.
The Lions finished last year as the 16th ranked pass defense in the league. That’s a major improvement over the past years. Especially when you consider the amount of injuries and rotations they made. Remember Jonathan Wade? The starter? Ya, I don’t really either. Both Vasher and Smith played better than I think anyone anticipated. So much is made of continuity and chemistry. This unit should have a chance to gel this off-season. I still think a rookie defensive back is a real possibility in the draft but if they only get another mid round developmental guy like Devon House, Jalil Brown, or Johnny Patrick then I think they will still be in good shape.
I hope they focus more on bringing in two solid line backers. One in the draft, one in free agency, and another late round developmental guy with speed that can be a special teamer. Obviously Von Miller in the first round if he falls. I think he will but not sure if he falls that far. One of my favorites that has gone under the radar somewhat is Chris Carter from Fresno State. He’s played at defensive end but is a true athlete and can make the transition to backer. He’s around 230 pounds which isn’t bad but you’d like to see him around 240-245 in a year or two. If he can keep his speed and athleticism and gain some size in a developmental year then I think he’s a guy that could take over a starting spot inside in a 3-4 defense or outside in a 4-3 will be where he is best suited.
Dontay Moch in the second round along with Mason Foster are guys to watch. I like Adrian Molten from Maryland as a developmental third day prospect so watch for them. All in all the run defense was much more of an issue last season than the pass defense, ranking only 24th. That’s actually an improvement over recent seasons but nowhere near good enough to contend for a playoff spot. With the talent and skill that is on the defensive line the Lions should be a top 15 defense in both the run and pass game.
The back seven really only needs 3 players at this point from what I’m seeing. A quality starting corner, a quality starting line backer, and Chris Houston. With Coleman in the mix the depth is good. With guys like Palmer, Dizon, and Carpenter the line backer depth is solid and one of those guys could start.
If I was in charge, which I’m definitely not, I would go after one of the top line backers available out there that will fit in as an upgrade where Julian Peterson used to be. There will be up to 10 solid possibilities to look at. Find the best scheme fit and bring him in to start. Then I would try to get my hands on whomever the best weak side prospect is in the second round. In the first I’d strictly go best available and build the talent level on the team.
After fixing the line backing core with a guy like Chad Greenway and drafting a weak side prospect like Dontay Moch in the second, I would resign Chris Houston and hope to get a good corner prospect in the first round like Jimmy Smith or Brandon Harris. That would fill every perceived hole on this team. In the third round I would look at another offensive play maker like Randall Cobb or Lester Jean(one of my sleeper prospects). A center prospect has to be high on the list as well. The trouble Dominic Raiola keeps finding himself in as well as his questionable abilities combined with Dylan Gandy being a free agent make the need for a developmental center significant. I haven’t found a solid mid round prospect that I like yet though.
Thanks for reading, leave questions or comments if you’re so inclined. Martin, if you’re listening, I like the move and what I think the plan is.